Now that Neil Armstrong actually died, NPR has an interesting story about what would’ve happened if he had died in space. Back in 1969, a life insurance policy would’ve cost the astronauts much, much more than they could afford. However, being responsible family men, the three astronauts who were part of the Apollo 11 mission couldn’t just leave the Earth without making sure their kids were going to live in a house and eat food. So the astronauts banked on the only currency they had, which was their fame. Less creative people would’ve just started charging for autographs, but these astronauts were clever and not out to get rich.
What they did instead was insure themselves using the market for their autographs: they had always signed autographs for free, but people would, of course, turn around and sell them. During their month-long quarantine before the space launch, the three astronauts signed hundreds of envelopes and gave them to a friend. On important days — like the launch and the moon landing — the friend took envelopes to the post office, had them postmarked, then dropped them off with the astronauts’ families. If they failed to return from space, the families could sell these autographed, postmarked envelopes and keep themselves solvent for years or maybe even a lifetime. Today, those envelopes are worth about 30,000$ each.